Coming off solid first year, THA ready for second season
The snow has melted in the Sierra Nevadas, and it appears that things have started to heat up within the Tahoe Hockey Academy (THA) program as well.
The month of May traditionally marks the start of AAA tryouts and the tryout season for CAHA and SCAHA teams. With Tahoe Hockey Academy being a non-traditional market, its program faces certain challenges not found with any other program in the state.
Being the first full-time residential academic program dedicated to hockey in California has put the Tahoe organization in a different position when it comes to students looking for a unique opportunity.
“We knew from Day 1 that it was not going to be easy building our program within a state that is so entrenched in a club-oriented environment,” THA president Leo Fenn said. “The goal all along has been to offer an alternative to players who are interested in more time on the ice, more time spent in school and more room for overall development of their hockey game.”
With Tahoe Hockey Academy having a full season under its belt, it would appear the program’s model is providing benefits for its student-athletes.
“Our program isn’t designed for the masses,” said THA athletic director and head coach Michael Lewis. “We’re on the ice and in the weight room every day, and that’s designed more for the player looking to prepare himself for the higher levels of hockey once he’s done playing Midgets.”
A more detailed look at what the academy has to offer in comparison to other hockey programs in the state reflects a different approach to achieving a player’s personal goals.
“I grew up in the Southern California youth hockey scene, and there’s no question that THA was something that the hockey community here needed,” THA associate coach Chris Collins said. “I saw so many of my friends leave the state to pursue hockey based on the fact that their clubs couldn’t provide the things needed for development and advancement.”
During the month of May, when parents and players decide their home for the upcoming season, the Tahoe Hockey Academy continues to be a topic of discussion for those who are looking for an alternative to the norm.
“I’ve seen it from all sides of the table when it comes to Southern California hockey,” said Fenn. “I’ve raised three sons playing hockey in SCAHA and CAHA, been a coach with different programs and witnessed the many hours spent on the freeways and away from the classrooms. Our program is designed to eliminate the negatives associated with travel hockey while providing huge benefits to a player’s growth as a young man and athlete.”
Those benefits seem to be enticing to many players inside and outside the state, as Tahoe continues to commit new student-athletes for the 2017-18 season.
“We’re a new program and in being unfamiliar to the masses, we understand it’s going to take time to be viewed as a viable option,” Lewis said. “I’ve been coaching travel hockey for the past 20 years, and have seen my players advance on to juniors, NCAA institutions and the professional ranks. There’s obviously nothing wrong with the traditional way of developing players, as it continues to work for many players locally – I just have to wonder how many additional players we can move on to the next level with the more advanced and specialized hockey curriculum that we offer at THA.”
A more detailed look into this specialized program shows that Tahoe Hockey Academy’s search is designed for players who are focused on individual progress and development.
“In the end, it’s going to be a player’s own personal development that’s going to get him noticed help him advance,” Fenn said. “From start to finish, we’re able to refine, construct and produce a more well-rounded player because our model offers more.”
— Greg Ball